Centre to review air safety

Advisory council to be set up

Centre to review air safety

Fully aware that the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has, for successive years, failed to take urgent corrective steps to improve flight safety, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry on Wednesday decided to set up a Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council (CASAC) that will comprise experts from all related fields, including the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Facing the flak for the country’s poor track record on flight and passenger safety, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, who has been holding a series of meetings here with sernior officials since the crash involving a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, took the step to establish the CASAC. The Council will work directly with the DGCA and recommend steps for improving air safety standards and other related issues.

But it is not clear whether the proposed inter-agency Council will play any significant role in investigating Saturday’s crash which is being probed by a DGCA team of officials.
In this context, aviation experts criticised the government’s approach to crash investigations, questioning the DGCA’s position since, in the course of the probe, issues concerning the agency’s failures might arise.

“It is like asking the very organisation that may have failed on many fronts to investigate itself,” a former DGCA official said, adding that “putting the entire blame on pilot error” will only “constitute a cover-up of the failures in the directorate”.  The official said any investigation must not only fix responsibility on DGCA’s senior officialdom, but also identify individuals for specific lapses.

The proposed Council will have specialists drawn from all fields of aviation, including pilots, air traffic controllers, airport operators, and the IAF. It will also have aviation medical specialists who can look into issues involving pilot fatigue. Besides, representatives from manufactures like Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier will be special invitees to the Council, ministry sources told Deccan Herald.

Air safety experts from regulatory bodies like the American Federal Aviation Administration and those from the United Kingdom will also be invited to share their expertise, the sources said. The ministry also decided to set up independent technical panels of experts to advise the DGCA on a range of safety issues.

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